WhatsApp is cracking down on groups which have malicious names.
WhatsApp has a lengthy history and that’s mainly in part to how secure it is. The fact that you’re kept safe in the age when phishing or malware attacks are quite common, is a testament to the work that the Facebook-owned company is putting in. However, sometimes, the screening method for malicious attacks may be too far to condone; however, if it keeps the platform safe, then who is anyone to judge. This brings us to a Reddit thread where the original poster claims that his WhatsApp group has been permanently banned as they used a malicious name. That’s right! It had nothing to do with any malware; instead, just because of the name, the group was permanently banned.
As per a report by WAPBetaInfo, the WhatsApp-focused website states that they have been receiving a lot of reports from users that have been banned. The report states, “The first report was found on Reddit, where the user Mowe11 published a post about his WhatsApp ban. He explained that a guy that was a participant of his group changed his university’s name group to something illegal, determining the ban for the entire group. He has also confirmed that all members got banned and that it was the 3rd time that a user did that. Another user from Reddit, FranciscoAlfaro, was in a group of his school, has about 100 participants. When he woke up, all members were mysteriously banned with no apparent reason.”
A later post from a user known as PiTiXX states that he has been banned from WhatsApp as his friend changed the group subject using the same malicious name and all WhatsApp accounts have since been suspended.
Another similar report: https://t.co/exkEu3ZyDO— WABetaInfo (@WABetaInfo) November 7, 2019
Someone has changed the group subject using a random malicious name -> banned.
I don't know precisely why it happens (because it's server-side) but it seems that it afflicts old groups or groups having a lot of participants. https://t.co/SZ2ryJLore
It has been reported that when these people tried contacting WhatsApp they were met with an automated reply that explained that the ban took effect as they had violated the Terms of Service and that no further replies would be provided. What this means is that when a person is wrongly banned by WhatsApp, they can’t do a single thing about it and also not receive any assistance from WhatsApp. What comes next is something that is every persons’ biggest fear. These people whose WhatsApp account has been banned are forced to change their phone numbers and lose all their chat history in the process.
As of now, it is unclear why this permanent ban takes place. But in all likelihood, it is because WhatsApp is detecting the malicious name as malware as it affects old groups or those having a lot of members.
It could also mean that this is one way that WhatsApp can detect malicious groups given that chats and calls are encrypted end-to-end and they can’t see the contents of the group. So, WhatsApp could probably be seeing this as metadata wherein group date creation, group subject, group description etc are visible.
However, it has to be said that this isn’t an efficient solution as people may change the subject of their group for fun and not that everyone gets banned. The group’s subject doesn’t always reflect the content of the group and WhatsApp should come up with an efficient way to tackle malware.